Plant-Based Basics: Grains

This is the second installment in a series called Plant-Based Basics. This series is designed for those of you who are brand new to a plant-based diet but I think the information will serve as a helpful reminder for anyone.

Plant Based Basics Grains

Today’s focus will be on Grains. In recent years there is a lot of controversy surrounding grains. Books, blogs and “experts” are claiming that grains are evil and don’t belong in your diet.

I have a serious problem with that point of view. Often when people refer to grains they group all grains and products made with grain into the same category; let’s not pretend rolled oats are equal to donuts. These people also talk about how bad carbs are for you.

Or they base their opinions on “experts” that haven’t done any legitimate studies. Since I am not a medical professional I’ll leave the science to the expert’s like Dr. McDougall (read his article that counter’s the claims in the leading anti-grain movement).

I’m not claiming that all grains are healthy for everyone. If you’ve been around here long you know my son cannot handle wheat/gluten. We avoid all grains containing gluten for his sake.

Whole grains that are minimally processed are healthy and should be eaten (unless you have a medical condition that requires a grain-free diet).

Grains, especially whole grains, are an essential part of a healthy diet. All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and minerals. Grains are also naturally low in fat. All of this makes grains a healthy option. Better yet, they’ve been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems. Mayo Clinic

Examples of Whole Grains

There are more varieties of grains than I can mention. I have the most experience with rice, wheat, oats, corn, barley, and millet. Grains are often ground into flour and refined. To maintain their healthy promoting properties I recommend you enjoy them with as little processing as possible.

How to Eat Whole Grains

I prefer to cook grains but many people like to sprout them and eat them raw. Many grains can be cooked with a 2:1 water to grain ratio while some might require more water.

Favorite Recipes

Whole Grain Breakfast Ideas


Blueberry Oatmeal and Peachy Keen Oatmeal are two seasonal favorites. We also enjoy Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal all year since apples are easier to get our hands on for a good price. We buy Gluten-Free Oats on Amazon since I regularly cook for people with gluten sensitivity.

quinoa ideas


Technically speaking quinoa isn’t a grain, the part we eat is a seed but we cook and eat it as a grain so I’m including it in this round-up. We love quinoa; it is naturally gluten-free, cooks quickly and can take on other flavors nicely. I’ll often buy it at Costco. I stopped buying it from bulk bins due to cross-contamination.

We enjoy Breakfast Quinoa and Summer Berry Breakfast Quinoa both warm and cold. I use it in place of rice in soups and stir frys. I’m partial to Mexican inspired flavors like Cilantro-Lime Quinoa, Quinoa Taco “Meat” and Quinoa-Lentil Tacos. I also enjoy adding quinoa to salads and wraps like in this Quinoa-Lentil Salad, Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad, and Lemony Quinoa Salad.

You can follow my Quinoa Pinterest Board for more ideas.

whole grain rice ideas


There are thousands of different varieties of rice. I’ll admit that I’m barely familiar with a few. I prefer brown rice. It is easily available in my area. I’m willing to bet you can buy rice in any grocery store but I usually buy it at Costco. Brown Rice can also be bought on Amazon.

Some of my most popular brown rice recipes are my Easy Crock Pot Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole (or the stove top or oven version), Crock Pot Brown Rice Casserole, Mexican Rice, Green Chili-Cilantro-Lime Soup, and Enchilada Soup.

We also eat rice for breakfast. Sometimes we mix it with Overnight Chia Porridge and other times opt for Raisin-Apple-Cinnamon Breakfast Rice.

Other Grains

There are many other types of grains. I usually just stick to those mentioned above due to allergies, budget considerations and bulk purchases. Years ago I cooked amaranth, millet, barely and others regularly. I still enjoy a good Lentil-Barley Stew occasionally.

Do you eat grains? What are your favorites?

Don’t forget to check out the first installment of this series Plant-Based Basics: Beans!


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  1. Thanks for the healthy reminder that all grains are NOT created equally! I hate hearing that people have given up grains or (good) carbs based on some recent fad or diet. There are so many benefits, and (of course!), I’m biased myself. Where would a plant-based eater be without grains?? Probably really hungry. 😉

    • Thank you Kim! I am a grain-girl. I can’t imagine going without them. If I NEEDED to for a medical reason I know I could do it. I should make a shirt that says “Stop Hating on Carbs!” I’d much rather eat beans and grains that fruits and veggies. 🙂

  2. Kathleen says:

    I was so glad to get this today. What a great series. I actually went back and reviewed the first one too. This is so helpful in staying motivated and getting back on track if one has fallen off the wagon due to family visits with difficult teenagers. Thanks Holly! this series is a gem.

  3. Kathleen says:

    One other thing. Being at Barnes & Noble several times these past 4 weeks(entertaining teenagers or waiting for them to finish their “hanging out” time) the books Grain brain / wheat belly (or whatever their titles were since there were several versions) were prominently featured. It was very helpful and more appreciated than you know to have Dr. McDougals information available right here on todays message. Thanks again!

    • Kathleen I am so glad it was helpful. I have a huge series planned to cover all of the main plant-based food groups. It will take a couple of months (at least) to get through them all.
      I haven’t read either of those books but I’ve heard a lot about them. I trust Dr. McDougall and enjoy his books and articles.

  4. I’m a BIG fan of grains, too. I can’t imagine a “diet” without them!

What do YOU think?

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